Week 3: Why Survey online?

This week, I’ll be looking into how online surveys can benefit businesses.

Online survey provide a variety of benefits over other methods. Here are several features that I think are important to small businesses taken from the Evans and Mathur article “The value of online surveys”.

Benefits of online surveys

cost effective and timely

Internet surveys are able to be implemented at a lower cost than other surveys. Several subscription based platforms exist so there is no fixed development cost for the software. Additionally they have low administration costs, low cost to increase sample size, and data entry is done by respondent. Leaving a business to invest more capital in developing questions and processing answers.   Online surveys allow for quick development and implementation as well as real-time results, analysis tools and automatic validation of entries.


Online surveys allow users the ability to choose when and where they engage the survey.  As well as the ability to embed multimedia, such as instructional videos or advertising samples.

demographic bonuses when using own client list

When you are using your own client list, you can know who responded, who didn’t, and who engaged but did not respond to survey. In addition you can cross reference this data with your demographic data on file to identify who you are reaching and who you are not.

Technology advantage

Online surveys allow for an advantage over traditional survey forms by eliminating interviewer biases, provide respondents only questions that pertain to them, the ability to rotate locations of answers to decrease bias, and to show a percent completed decreasing survey anxiety.


There are drawbacks to this method, just as there are to traditional surveys. Here are some considerations to keep in mind

Demographic issues

One of the biggest issues is that not everyone has internet or is computer literate. Those with “lower incomes, less education, living in rural areas or age 65 and older are underrepresented” (Internet Surveys).  So alternate survey means would be needed to reach those audiences.  Likewise  those who do answer the survey may not represent cross-section of population and thus margin of error is difficult to establish (Internet Surveys).

Less personal

Online surveys are considered less personal than in person or phone interviews. This can ead to less trust of surveyor and survey, questions of privacy of information submitted, low response rates or even viewed as junk mail by user or their mail host. So it is important to build rapport with respondents, and possibly make them aware of the survey in advance.

Survey overload

There are many surveys online now, and survey overload can result in low response numbers.   Personally if I see a survey popup on a website when I first visit it, I get annoyed and close the pop up. But I still generally proceed to the site.  So it is important that respondents feel respected and opt-in to a survey, and not be forced to opt-out instead.

Technology variations

There are variations in how people access online surveys. People accessing surveys by  cellphones, computers, different browsers or operating systems can lead to unexpected display problems.  And these problems can cause non-response.  So it is important that a reliable framework or service is used. Especially one that is device responsive.


survey building screen
survey building screen

As a graduate student at the University of Florida, I have access to a rather powerful survey platform, Qualitrics. . Qualitrics is well respected platform that is utilized by companies such as jetBlue, Kelloggs, Crate&Barrel, Kawasaki, DirecTV, Toyota, Experian, EA Games, and more.

One section in the survey library
One section in the survey library

Qualitrics provides quick and easy ways to develop new surveys.  You can build your own with their simple interface, copy a previous survey you’ve made, or (perhaps most exciting for me) utilize their large library of sample surveys which you can then tweak (pictured is just one section of their library).

Surveys for business can include: establishing your market, customer satisfaction, identifying audiences, brand perception, evaluate advertising, and new service/product identification (amongst others).

Some questions I have on the Evans & Mathur reading:

The paper was originally written in 2005, so it’s been almost a decade. Do you think that the summary is still applicable? And what research topics would you like to see included in the next edition of the summary?

Also, do you think the demographic and probability issues would affect a survey for your business, or would they?  How can you provide incentives to respondents to overcome the low response rate of online surveys(or surveys in general)?


Internet Surveys. (n.d.). Retrieved September 8, 2014, from http://www.people-press.org/methodology/collecting-survey-data/internet-surveys/

Joel R. Evans, Anil Mathur, (2005),”The value of online surveys”, Internet Research, Vol. 15 Iss: 2 pp.195 – 219 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/10662240510590360




2 responses to “Week 3: Why Survey online?”

  1. I think much has changed from 2005 to now. I think the cross compatibility is becoming less of an issue thanks to responsive design and apps. If they redo this research, I would be interested to know what device the user is submitting the survey from and more data on the user experience. Usability of the survey tool could factor into the results. We have already been shown two examples of survey tools.

    The demographic and other issue certainly affect the survey results. I think knowing your target audience is key in sending out the survey. Some incentives like coupon or inexpensive additional material is usually a good way to overcome the lower response rates.

    • I like your idea to “know what device the user is submitting the survey from and more data on the user experience.” Knowing the device would be very interesting in terms of what to design first.

      It definitely would be valuable to know the “tolerance” in terms of time that a user is willing to commit to filling out a survey. And if there was a way to quantify the respondents reaction to different UI/UX of a few sample surveys, that could really lead to some interesting developments in design.

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